Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 28 February 2015
A little light escapism
John's going to love this post - it will take his mind off the wedding (ha ha!).
I bought these candlesticks at a friend's antique shop the other day, thinking they had something about them, as well as being quite elegant.
He asked me what sort of age I thought they were, and I underestimated by about 100 years, saying I thought them to be late 18th century. I eventually (yesterday) looked them up in my Christie's bible of English candlesticks, and discovered that they were specifically made for the coffee-house/tavern market and date from about 1700.
All these sticks have the same characteristics - they are all solid to make them uncrushable, all tall so that the light is high even when the candle burns down, all have simple sconces and round bases and all have slightly tapering stems - for some reason.
When you think of how many of these must have been made for all the coffee-houses and taverns, it is a wonder that so few survive - especially as they were built to last.
The answer - I guess - is that they fell out of fashion in a world where fashion ruled, so having been designed on the same pattern as they were in the mid 17th century, they suddenly looked old-hat around 1710 when fashionability started to reach ludicrous heights, so were melted-down in large numbers to produce fancier, baublier sticks for the establishments which wanted to be the premier places to visit for urban/urbane gentlemen.
Metal was as precious in those days as it is now, and subject to the same fluctuations in price. Same with glass - any expensive, fancy, lead drinking glasses which were dropped - and many were - immediately became 'cullet'.
'Cullet' was glass scrap, and thrown back into the furnace to make new glasses from. These days, it id difficult to get any recycling company to take it away. Silica is the most common mineral in the world.